Food delivery workers near a TV screen showing Chinese leader Xi Jinping attending the closing ceremony of the National People’s Congress, in Beijing, China, May 28, 2020 (AP photo by Andy Wong).

In this week’s editors’ discussion on Trend Lines, WPR’s Judah Grunstein and Freddy Deknatel talk about China’s latest encroachment on Hong Kong’s autonomy, and how it might affect U.S.-China relations. They also discuss the Trump administration’s latest move to finish off the multilateral nuclear deal with Iran, and the outdated logic guiding the administration’s Iran policy more generally. Listen: Download: MP3Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | RSS | Spotify Relevant Articles on WPR:Why China’s Xi Opted for the ‘Nuclear Option’ in Hong KongChina’s Aggression Amid the Pandemic Has Little to Do With COVID-19Trump’s Iran Strategy Is Still Just an Anti-Obama VendettaThe Trump […]

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro arrives for a press conference at the Miraflores Presidential Palace in Caracas, Venezuela, March 12, 2020 (AP photo by Matias Delacroix).

The U.S. Justice Department’s indictment of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro in March did not go over well at Miraflores Palace, the president’s official workplace and residence in Caracas. In remarks just hours after the indictment was announced, Maduro swatted away the allegations of drug trafficking and money laundering, and assailed President Donald Trump as a “racist cowboy” and “New York mafia con artist.” Even many of Maduro’s critics in the United States were quick to question the move. Understandably, they fear the criminal charges undermine negotiations between Maduro and his domestic opponents, including Juan Guaido, the opposition leader who is […]

President Donald Trump listens during a session at Ford’s Rawsonville Components Plant, which is now manufacturing personal protection and medical equipment, Ypsilanti, Michigan, May 21, 2020 (AP photo by Alex Brandon).

Six months after the emergence of the novel coronavirus in Wuhan, China, and four months after it became a global outbreak, its political and economic fallout continue to take shape. As government policies adapt and evolve in real time to the changing features of the pandemic, so too do the geopolitical implications. So far, three scenarios have been advanced with regard to COVID-19’s potential impact on the international order. They can be broadly characterized as a change at the top, in which a triumphant and capable China replaces the bungling U.S. as the world’s dominant power; a descent into multipolar […]

A boy paddles a kayak down a flooded street in Midland, Mich., May 20, 2020 (Photo by Katy Kildee for Midland Daily News via AP Images).

Historic floods washed over swaths of Michigan after a dam breach earlier this month, just days after a major typhoon struck the Philippines. Last week, Cyclone Amphan slammed into eastern India and Bangladesh, killing dozens of people. And the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is predicting a busier-than-normal Atlantic hurricane season, which officially kicks off on June 1. The timing, obviously, couldn’t be worse. For this week’s interview on Trend Lines, WPR’s Elliot Waldman is joined by Samantha Montano, an assistant professor of emergency management at Massachusetts Maritime Academy, for a conversation about the challenges of preparing for, and responding […]

Peruvian Foreign Minister Gustavo-Meza Cuadra, left, and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi at the Diaoyutai state guesthouse in Beijing, Nov. 29, 2019 (pool photo by Florence Lo via AP).

The coronavirus pandemic has yet to peak across Latin America and the Caribbean, but China is already maneuvering to try and capitalize on the crisis and bolster its position and influence in the region. The heated blame game between Washington and Beijing over the coronavirus’s origins will eventually fade from the headlines, and Chinese leaders are quietly working to ensure that when it does, the strategic ground will have shifted in their favor. At the heart of these efforts is a campaign for ideological supremacy, to show the moral equivalence and even the supposed superiority of the Chinese communist system […]

Flags with the logo of the Chinese telecommunications company Huawei in Bonn, Germany, April 6, 2020 (Photo by Horst Galuschka for dpa via AP Images).

Editor’s Note: Guest columnist Edward Alden is filling in for Kimberly Ann Elliott this week. During the Cold War, the United States created and led two quite different international trading systems. The first, and by far the better known, was the open, multilateral trading system. Its aim was to expand free trade and market principles around the world, and it culminated after the Cold War in the creation of the World Trade Organization in 1995. What began with just 23 nations in the aftermath of World War II, with the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, today includes 164 countries […]

Sacristan Michael Seewar prepares the altar for a livestream Easter service at Saint Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral in Seattle, Washington, April 12, 2020 (AP photo by Elaine Thompson).

An article published earlier this month in the largest English-language newspaper in Bangladesh, the Daily Star, inadvertently revealed a lot about different perspectives on religion’s role in society, including during the coronavirus pandemic. The writer argued that religious actors play a “vital stabilizing role” during such global crises and can “offer a beacon of hope” amid “the ravages of this pandemic.” But in the comments, a reader took a starkly different stance with what he called “a rude question”—a few of them, in fact. First, can faith and science go together? Second, how can faith actors help when they fight […]

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at a news conference at the State Department in Washington, April 29, 2020 (AP photo by Andrew Harnik).

Whether the world knows it now or not, how the U.S. Congress handles the White House’s abrupt firing of the State Department’s top watchdog could be more than a make or break moment for the future of “America First” diplomacy. It could also determine the trajectory of American presidential politics for years to come. If Secretary of State Mike Pompeo survives the escalating scandal surrounding President Donald Trump’s decision last week to force out State Department Inspector General Steve Linick—at Pompeo’s request—Pompeo’s much-anticipated run for the presidency in 2024 is all but assured. On Wednesday, Pompeo bluntly stated in a […]

An Avangard intercontinental ballistic missile lifts off from a truck-mounted launcher somewhere in Russia (Russian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP).

In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Trump administration found itself defending proposed cuts in funding to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in its 2021 budget request to Congress. The cuts, which were the latest in a consistent pattern of reductions in CDC funding over the past 10 years, threaten to further hamper the government’s ability to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak. But they are part of a much broader trend of gradually deprioritizing critical institutions, one that threatens key government functions meant to provide stability in an unpredictable world. Like the CDC, the State Department […]

French President Emmanuel Macron listens to German Chancellor Angela Merkel during a joint video press conference at the Elysee Palace, in Paris, May 18, 2020 (AP photo by Francois Mori).

In this week’s editors’ discussion on Trend Lines, WPR’s Judah Grunstein, Freddy Deknatel and Prachi Vidwans talk about the abrupt firing of the U.S. State Department’s inspector general by President Donald Trump last week, and the allegations of misconduct by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that have since emerged. They also talk about a potentially game-changing proposal by France and Germany for the European Union to issue collective debt to finance post-pandemic economic recovery plans for its hardest-hit member states. Listen: Download: MP3 Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | RSS | Spotify Relevant Articles on WPR:The Future of Trump’s ‘America First’ Agenda […]

Security officers wearing face masks stand guard outside before the opening session of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference in Beijing, May 21, 2020 (AP photo by Andy Wong).

From the moment Chinese leaders belatedly recognized that a deadly new pathogen was spreading rapidly in the city of Wuhan and beyond, it became apparent that the coronavirus would play a defining role in shaping the image and power of China and its regime for years to come. Beijing has been working overtime ever since not just to contain the virus at home, but to shape the narrative of the pandemic there and abroad, seeking to portray China and its rulers as wise, efficient, powerful and generous. China’s ultimate goal is to emerge from this crisis as a more powerful […]

Dr. Joseph Ballinger gives Marjorie Hill, a nurse at Montefiore Hospital in New York, the first vaccine for the H2N2 virus to be administered in New York, Aug. 16, 1957 (AP photo).

Months into the coronavirus pandemic, it has become clear that countries that recently dealt with other outbreaks of infectious diseases have been more successful in containing COVID-19. From East Asia and the Pacific to West and Central Africa, authorities have made good use of epidemiological expertise they acquired from tackling outbreaks of SARS, MERS, Swine flu and Ebola to quickly roll out containment measures. Yet even governments lacking such experience should have been able to foresee the destructive potential of COVID-19. President Donald Trump may insist that “there’s never been anything like this in history,” but the history of the […]

A nurse injects an elderly woman with an influenza vaccine in Lima, Peru, March 17, 2020 (AP photo by Martin Mejia).

The global quest for a coronavirus vaccine is heating up. Moderna, a Masschusetts-based biotechnology company, announced promising results this week from a limited early trial of its vaccine candidate. And last Friday, President Donald Trump unveiled “Operation Warp Speed,” a new public-private partnership that aims to make a vaccine available in substantial quantities by the end of the year. For this week’s interview on Trend Lines, WPR’s Elliot Waldman is joined by Paul Offit, a physician and director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital of Pennsylvania, to discuss what it will take to safely manufacture—and fairly distribute—a […]

A man fishes near docked oil drilling platforms, in Port Aransas, Texas, May 8, 2020 (AP photo by Eric Gay).

Oil demand has fallen precipitously in recent months due to lockdowns and other measures that governments around the world have undertaken in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The International Energy Agency reckons that oil demand will fall by a record 9.3 million barrels per day in 2020, erasing nearly a decade of growth. With the crisis having rattled oil markets that were already struggling to adapt to structural challenges on both the demand and supply side, the world should brace for the geopolitical impacts of historically low demand for oil. It will take years before demand returns to pre-coronavirus levels […]

President Donald Trump speaks about a new trade agreement with Canada and Mexico during an event at the White House, Washington, Jan. 29, 2020 (AP photo by Evan Vucci).

On the heels of Sen. Josh Hawley’s call in an op-ed to abolish the World Trade Organization, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer also took to the opinion pages of The New York Times to declare the end of “the era of offshoring.” President Donald Trump’s aggressively unilateral trade policies, naturally, got most of the credit. As with Hawley’s fuzzy plan for a club of “free nations” aligned against China, it’s not quite clear whether Lighthizer thinks protectionism should still be part of the plan to “Bring the jobs back to America.” But with the United States potentially on the brink […]

A U.S. Marine stands guard as the USNS Comfort hospital ship prepares to leave New York City, April 30, 2020 (Photo by Anthony Behar for Sipa via AP Images).

The twin global emergencies of COVID-19 and climate change are forcing the U.S. foreign policy establishment to reassess its traditional conceptions of national security. According to a still dominant paradigm, the gravest dangers the United States faces emanate from adversaries with sufficient military capabilities to attack the nation and its allies or, at a minimum, thwart its political and economic objectives. These threat perceptions expanded dramatically following 9/11. After a handful of jihadists armed with boxcutters inflicted a grievous wound on the U.S. homeland, transnational terrorists joined geopolitical rivals and rogue states in the pantheon of security threats. But the […]

President Donald Trump arrives to speak about the coronavirus during a press briefing at the White House in Washington, May 11, 2020 (AP photo by Alex Brandon).

What happens when a superpower is not so super anymore? If you accept the premise that in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic and its devastating economic impact, most Americans on both the left and the right will come to view U.S. global leadership as “a luxury rather than a necessity,” as Steven Metz put it last week, then what would the post-Pax Americana world order look like? Most observers think America will step back after COVID-19, and that sounds about right—although it is far from clear whether that would be a few years on the bench, until the U.S. […]

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